Puducherry will vote in a single phase for the 30 assembly seats going to polls today along with three other states — Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Of the 30 assembly seats in the Union Territory, five are reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates. As many as 10,02,589 electors will choose the candidates for the 15 legislative Assembly of Puducherry.
While the Congress is fighting the polls in an alliance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the opposition tie-up consists of All India NR Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Voting is being held in Puducherry two months after the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government collapsed in a huge embarrassment for the party. Mr Narayanasamy accused the opposition BJP and NR Congress of bringing down his government and also blamed former Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi of “colluding with the opposition”.
Mr Narayanasamy had resigned on February 22 ahead of a floor test in the 33-member House (including three nominated) following the resignations of five Congress and one DMK legislator. On February 23, President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignation of Mr Narayanasamy and his council of ministers.
Mr Narayanasamy recently ruled out any possibility of him taking on the mantle of chief ministership if the Congress-led alliance comes to power in Puducherry, saying he would turn down such an offer and would work 24/7 to strengthen the party in the Union Territory.
Last month, the Madras High Court wanted to know if the Puducherry election could be deferred in light of allegations the BJP had wrongfully accessed and misused voters’ Aadhaar details, including phone numbers, for campaigning purposes. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) informed the Madras High Court on Wednesday that no Aadhaar data, more particularly the cell phone numbers of voters in Puducherry, has been furnished to the BJP for campaigning for the April 6 elections.
In the 2016 assembly polls, the Congress had won 15 seats, All India NR Congress eight seats, AIADMK got four seats, DMK walked away with two MLAs. BJP could not win any seats.
In its poll manifesto for Puducherry, the BJP has promised to create 2.5 lakh new jobs for youth, financial assistance of Rs 6,000 per year for all fishermen and free two-wheelers for girls pursuing higher education if it is elected to power in the Union Territory. Senior BJP leaders along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi have aggressively campaigned in Puducherry in the recent days.
Meanwhile, the Congress, in its election manifesto, has promised statehood to Puducherry, waiving off all loans of the government obtained from the centre and the inclusion of the union territory in Central Finance Commission. The Congress has also promised to bear the cost of COVID-19 vaccination for the people of the union territory if voted to power.
The counting of votes will take place on May 2.